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DEC 1 6 1982 


in the Spirituality 

of Jesuits 

"Burn-out"— Contemporary Dilemma for the 

Jesuit Social Activist 


§M5 WfW Alfred C. Kammer, S.J. 

mm Other Viewpoints 


Richard L. Smith, S.J. 

Francisco Ornelas, S.J. 

Noel Barre. S.J. 

Published by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality, 
especially for American Jesuits working out their aggiornamento 

in the spirit of Vatican Council II 

Vol. X January, 1978 No. 1 


consists of a group of Jesuits from various provinces who are listed below. 
The members were appointed by the Fathers Provincial of the United States. 

The purpose of the Seminar is to study topics pertaining to the spir- 
itual doctrine and practice of Jesuits, especially American Jesuits, and to 
communicate the results to the members of the Assistancy. The hope is that 
this will lead to further discussion among all American Jesuits — in private, 
or in small groups, or in community meetings. All this is done in the spirit 
of Vatican Council II' s recommendation to religious institutes to recapture 
the original charismatic inspiration of their founders and to adapt it to the 
changed circumstances of modern times. The members of the Seminar welcome 
reactions or comments in regard to the topics they publish. 

To achieve these purposes, especially amid today's pluralistic cultures, 
the Seminar must focus its direct attention sharply, frankly, and specifi- 
cally on the problems, interests, and opportunities of the Jesuits of the 
United States. However, many of these interests are common also to Jesuits 
of other regions, or to other priests, religious men or women, or lay men 
or women. Hence the studies of the Seminar, while meant especially for 
American Jesuits, are not exclusively for them. Others who may find them 
helpful are cordially welcome to read them. 


Michael J. Buckley, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Le Roy Avenue, 
Berkeley, California 94709. 415-841-8804 

Thomas H. Clancy, S.J., St. Charles College, Grand Coteau, Louisiana 
70541. 318-662-5251 

Joseph F. Conwell, S.J., Leo Martin House, 525 Sinto, Spokane, Washington 

99202. 509-489-8293 
David L. Fleming, S.J., Ministry Training Services, 3001 S. Federal Blvd., 

P.O. Box 1114, Denver, Colorado 80236. 303-922-6358 

Philip C. Fischer, S.J., Secretary of the Assistancy Seminar, Fusz Memorial, 
3700 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63108. 314-652-3700 

George E. Ganss, S.J., Chairman of the Assistancy Seminar and Editor of its 
Studies. His address is: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 
Fusz Memorial, 3700 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 
63108. 314-652-5737 

Robert F. Harvanek, S.J., Loyola University, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, 
Illinois 60626. 312-274-3000 

J. Leo Klein, S.J., Xavier University, Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 
45207. 513-745-3000 

Philip S. Land, S.J., Center of Concern, 3700 13th Street, N.E., 
Washington, D.C. 20017. 202-635-2757 

Dominic Maruca, S.J., Jesuit Provincial Residence, 5704 Roland Avenue, 
Baltimore, Maryland 21210. 301-435-1833 

Daniel F. X. Meenan, S.J., Fusz Memorial, 3700 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, 
Missouri 63108. 314-652-3700 

John W. Padberg, S.J., Weston School of Theology, 3 Phillips Place, 
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138. 617-492-1960 

Copyright, 1977, by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 

Fusz Memorial, St. Louis University 
3700 West Pine Boulevard 
St. Louis, Missouri 63108 


in the Spirituality 

of Jesuits 

'Burn-out"— Contemporary Dilemma for the 

Jesuit Social Activist 

Alfred C. Kammer, S.J. 

Other Viewpoints 


Richard L. Smith, S.J. 

Francisco Ornelas. S.J. 

Noel Barr'e. S.J. 

Published by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality, 
especially for American Jesuits working out their aggiornamento 

in the spirit of Vatican Council II 

Vol. X January, 1978 No. 1 

31 13 XL r> r--i f> 

82 l*02BN2 015 3ol0 



Alfred C. Kammer, S.J. 


Editor's Foreword iv 

Author's Introduction to the Problem and the Study 1 


A. Experience of Failure, Personal Imperative, Structural 
Awareness, Anger 3 

B. Violence, a Different Style, Closing Circles of Friends and 
Contacts, the Absence of Models 5 



A. Questionable Authenticity, Different Lifestyle, Lack of 
Support, "We-They" Perceptions 8 

B. Secular Environment, Changing Religious Identity and 
Practices 11 



A. The Use of Power and the Engagement in Conflict 14 

B. The Clash of Utopianism and Pragmatics 15 

C. A Fatal Dualism 16 



A. An American Reply: "Burn-Out Poses Deeper Questions," 

by Richard L. Smith, S.J. 21 

B. A Reflection by Mexican Jesuits on Their Experience 

A Summary Composed by Francisco Ornelas, S.J. 32 

C. A Response to the Mexican Jesuits from a French Worker-Priest 

by Noel Barre, S.J. 37 




Editor's Foreword 

The American Assistancy Seminar is happy to present here a Study on 
"burn-out" by an invited associate member, Father Alfred C. Kammer, S.J. 
The timeliness of the topic is evident in view of the increasing number 
of Jesuits who are engaging in various social ministries among the very 
poor, where they are certain to encounter many frustrations which can all 
too easily result in crippling discouragements. This gives rise to prob- 
lems which need serious discussion in a search for solutions and preventives 
Father Kammer here tackles this topic, for which he is well qualified both 
by his experience among the poor and his academic achievements. 

At our request he has furnished the following background about him- 
self. He is thirty-two years old, a native of New Orleans, the second 
child of four in a family of professional background. After graduation 
from Jesuit High School in New Orleans, he entered the Society of Jesus in 
1963. He received degrees of Bachelor of Arts, with major in Philosophy, 
from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Doctor of Law from Yale University, and 
Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology, Chicago. 

He has long been committed to social ministries. He spent part of 
his time during studies, his summers, and his period of regency in various 
forms of social action, especially in Mobile, Atlanta, and Chicago. At 
present he is working in Atlanta, Georgia, as the Director of the Senior 
Citizens Law Project of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. 

He began this paper several years ago at the suggestion and even 
urging of the Reverend Ms. Peggy Way, a minister of the Church of Christ 
and a faculty member of the School of Divinity of Vanderbilt University, 
Nashville, Tennessee, who also served as a visiting professor in the min- 
isterial faculty at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago. She and he 
were both concerned about the "drop-out" of numerous social activists whom 
they had personally known or known about, including Jesuits. Ms. Way's 
encouragement and assistance have been very important in Fr. Rammer's 
development of the materials in the Study presented below, 

George E. Ganss , S.J., Chairman 
The American Assistancy Seminar 




Alfred C. Rammer, S.J. 
Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. 
Fulton Federal Building 
11 Pryor Street S.W. 
Atlanta, Georgia 30303 

Author 1 s Introduction to the Problem and the Study 

Why is it that activists in Jesuit social ministry seem to have the 
longevity of members of a bomb squad? Why is it that brevity seems to be 
the one common characteristic of a wide variety of forms of social ministry 
in direct contact with the poor and the problems of the poor? What the 
title expression "burn-out" refers to is a physical, emotional, psycho- 
logical, and spiritual phenomenon — an experience of personal fatigue, 
alienation, failure and more — that seems characteristic of the lives of a 
number of Jesuit social activists in this country. 

On different people, this phenomenon has varied impact: After only 
a few years of direct ministry, a man may move to managing or training 
other activists, to further studies, or to some other apostolate; he may 
"drop out" of social ministry and the Society at the same time; or, per- 
haps worst of all, he may remain in social ministry long after his use- 
fulness, sensitivity, creativity, and caring have ended. Then, clients 
become "caseloads," people become "issues" or "files," and the activist 
becomes a bureaucratic functionary or a raving fanatic. 

The phenomenon is not unique to American Jesuits, nor to religiously 
motivated activists. Researchers at the University of California at 

Berkeley have studied a burn-out phenomenon that appears common to many 

health and social-service professionals: poverty lawyers, physicians, 

prison personnel, social-welfare workers, clinical psychologists and psy- 
chiatrists in a mental hospital, child-care workers, and psychiatric 

nurses . 

Nevertheless, it is important for Jesuits to recognize the existence 

of this problem especially since one major response to the 32nd General 

Congregation seems to be a commitment of manpower in the direction of active 
involvement with the poor and the problems of the poor to an extent not 
heretofore realized. 

In addition, the burn-out problem for social activists raises issues 
that touch every Jesuit, whether in social ministry or not. In the sphere 
of spiritual direction, there are problems concerning anger, frustration, 
hostility, and failure. In the sphere of ministry are raised questions of 
the exercise of power, the use of conflict, and the need for competence. 
In terms of world-view there is consideration of the permanent presence of 
evil in human society, a certain naivete in both pragmatic political anal- 
ysis and faith-vision, and the constant contrast between idealistic hopes 
and realistic possibilities for all "change agents." Finally, in terms of 
Jesuit sooietas are developed themes of alienation, identity, and community. 
In a very real sense, the problem and issues involved in the discussion 
which follows have echoes in every ministry of the Society. 

At the outset, it is important for the reader to realize the limits 
of this issue of Studies. The primary purpose of these papers is to pre- 
sent a problem, with both descriptive and analytical materials. Because 
of the scope of the problem — involving psychological, spiritual, social, 
ministerial, and political dimensions — the presentation of a solution is 
impossible. Rather, my hope is that simply presenting the problem in 
these pages and suggesting some lines of response will contribute to a 
collaborative, responsive effort on the part of many others of diverse 
skills and experiences. 

The paper begins with predominantly descriptive materials, developing 
in turn the strains associated with the work itself, then the experience 
of alienation, and finally some suggested theoretical and theological un- 
derpinnings of the burn-out phenomenon. As the discussion moves through 
these three sections, it changes from a more descriptive to a more ana- 
lytical approach to the problem. The fourth part of the paper then sug- 
gests some lines of response that are already developing. 

The base upon which this analysis is built is serious reflection upon 
my own experience with activists and others, over the past several years, 
in an attempt to understand the phenomenon; and also in the hope of 

developing counter-strategies which promise healthy survival in active 

. , . . 4 

social ministry. 


Many social activists seem almost chronically tired, frustrated, and 
overextended. Why? There seem to be a number of mutually conditioning 
factors . 

A. Experience of Failure, Personal Imperative , 
Structural Awareness, Anger 

When Father General Pedro Arrupe met with the Jesuit province Directors 
of Social Ministries in St. Louis in December, 1975, he responded to all 
their reports, plans, and agenda by assuring the activists that they would 
fail. Father Arrupe seems to have been speaking from a particular theo- 
logical world-view in his assertion, one which sees failure as an intrinsic 
part of all efforts to effect societal change, efforts to build up the 
Kingdom of God. The view is strongly Christian and one with which Jesuits 
are very familiar in their Third Week experience with the suffering Christ 
as they were making the Spiritual Exercises. The point here is that Fa- 
ther Arrupe was describing a factual, everyday experience of activists. 
As one Jesuit ex-organizer put it, "Everything I touched turned to failure." 

For those at the grass-roots, direct-ministry-to-needs level, the sense 
of failure arises from the sheer massiveness of the problem. For every 
ten people he helps or works with, there seem to be a thousand more . And 
the same problems appear day after day, year after year. "Things are not, 
after all, getting better and better," says this experience. A common 
response is to dig in deeper and become more involved — with too much to do 
and not enough time to do it in. This is a major cause of fatigue. 

This "digging in" is related to a personal imperative about the work 
and the needs of the poor which is typical of people involved in these 
matters. In the late 60 's in a Southern city, for example, Quaker neigh- 
borhood workers involved in the black community made an impassioned plea 
to a group of Jesuit philosophy students. They insisted that unless 

something was done about poverty and racism "immediately," it would be too 
late. In response, the Jesuits should jettison plans to prepare themselves 
for later ministry (even social ministry), drop out of school, and "hit the 

Some observers suggest that a Messiah complex lies at the heart of 
this imperative, the activist believing that if he doesn't get things done, 
no one will. Others argue that guilt is the driving motivation, since 
activists come largely from well-to-do backgrounds, the "haves" of Ameri- 
can society. Still others "blame" this condition on the overwhelming needs 
of the poor and the acuteness of their pain at the hands of the larger so- 
ciety. As one religious doing community organizing expressed it, "I hate 
it; it's the worst work I've ever done. But my faith calls me to it." 

For those working at the people-and-needs level, there may be an ac- 
companying awakening of what one Mexican Jesuit calls "structural Utopian 
awareness." This is the consciousness or awareness which arises out of 
contact with the mass of individual problems and affirms that there really 
are structural and systemic causes of the problems of everyday life in 
poor America and that "the system's got to change." A good example of 
this appeared in a New Yorker article on Appalachia which quoted a young 
social activist (not a Jesuit) as follows: 

We wasted time out here for a couple of years setting up 
community centers, repairing schoolhouses , providing fun and 
games for the youngsters, andsummer programs — all of which were 
incidental to the main concern. ... A lif e-and-death struggle 
is going on over strip mining here that can spell doom to the 
future of this area. The only way to end it is to organize 
people, to get them together to voice their demands. ° 

This kind of consciousness brings with it sharp dissatisfaction with kinds 
of work that are designed more to meet immediate needs than to change so- 
cietal structures; and for those in such work it is a part of the experi- 
ence of "failure" which Father Arrupe alluded to. 

Even if one is working at the structural and systemic level, how- 
ever, failure can be a regular companion. "The System" often is like the 
mythical dragon — cut off a head and two grow back. Work hard to change 
some aspect of the political, financial, or legal structures of a city, 
for instance, and some new means of enslavement will be devised. The more 

knowledgeable the activist becomes, the more pervasive and powerful do the 
"sinful social structures" appear. In addition, if the activist works 
at this structural level for too long, he may find himself out of touch 
with the people he intended to serve or the problems he meant to remedy 
in the first place. Again, frustration and failure. 

Failure and frustration, in turn, give rise to pain and anger, and 
thence to blame, hostility, guilt, and a range of other powerful emotions. 

One prominent formation superior argues that many Jesuits in direct 

social action are working out inappropriate anger and authority hang-ups . 

The same insight was suggested by one sympathetic non-activist, who lived 
with a community of Jesuit organizers in the Midwest. His reaction was 
that "they had to have an other," and that they extended the conflict 
model even to dealings with their own provincial superiors. These ob- 
servations suggest that such attitudes exist for men going into the work 
of social change. 

Many activists suggest that anger results from involvement in this 
work. In other words, the work among the poor simply draws out the anger 
and anti-authoritarian elements that are present in most people, including 
Jesuits. Their anger, they say, would be shared by more Jesuits if the 
others were exposed to the experience of the poor and those working amidst 
them — if they had their own "consciousness raised." 

Whatever its source and however it develops, the anger is a reality 
for most activists. It is potentially a self-destructive emotionality. 
Part of the task of survival, then, is to assimilate that experience, 
dealing positively and creatively with it. 

B. Violence, a Different Style, Closing Circles of Friends and 
Contacts, the Absence of Models 

It is commonplace to refer to the general violence imposed by "the 
system" upon the poor, that which tears up families and destroys bodies, 
minds, and spirits. And watchers of the TV-news are also familiar with 
the current of actual physical violence that flows swiftly through the 
ghettoes and slums of urban and rural America. 

This violence is also part of the world of the activist. Surprisingly, 

a significant number of activists can recite tales of actual violence and 
fear of violence in their lives: the bomb thrown through the legal-aid 
office window, dark streets and darker public-housing corridors, civil- 
rights marches, physical threats, and death itself. As one Jesuit activist 
put it, "I got burned; I saw a friend of mine killed. The 'enemy 1 struck 
back at us." This condition is absent from the lives of most other Jesuits 
and from the activist's own prior work. It adds personal fear and fear 
for fellow workers and the poor to an already difficult task; and it may 
be complicated by guilt and related emotions when the activist sees his 
own efforts or the project he is involved with as somehow responsible for 
violence or violent death. 

Another disconcerting factor for the activist may be the "style" of 
the work he is involved in. This has a number of aspects. Structuring 
is one. Unlike the work of many Jesuits in institutional commitments, 
the activist's job is often unstructured, flexible, and self-starting. 
Besides making personal life irregular and sometimes disjointed, the lack 
of structure complicates the possibilities of community life. Prayer, 
meals, even simple relaxation are jeopardized. Without the external struc- 
ture imposed by a common institution, there is a greater demand for per- 
sonal and community self-structuring. This need, however, runs counter 
to a tendency on the part of some activists to reject "artificial struc- 
tures," especially in view of the work imperative discussed earlier. 

Another aspect of the style problem was suggested in a meeting of 
community organizers who were members of religious orders. Reference was 
made to the "lead organizer style": strong language, heavy smoking, long 
meetings, heavy drinking, late hours. . . . The same might be said of 
activists of other kinds for whom the pace is fast, competition is woven 
into the fabric of their day, and conflict is a major theme (more on this 
later). This style is an exhausting one for anyone, even more so for new 
people "breaking into" a particular work, for whom the style may actually 
seem necessary to the work. 

A curious aspect of style — one hesitates to mention it — is the often 
cluttered and dirty environs of the activist, at home or at work, whether 
this is a counter-cultural reaction to middle-class values or an offshoot 

of an operative poverty concept or a result of being too-busy-to-clean-up, 
it seems to contribute to two reactions. One is the exacerbation of the 
tension and frustration of the work, and the other is an unwillingness of 
others in other ministries to share community life with some activists. 

This last observation about the relations with those in other mini- 
stries raises a more general point. Activists may find the circle of 
their social contacts and friends becoming increasingly narrow, eventually 
encompassing only those engaged in the same or similar work and a few loyal 
others. This is partly occasioned by the fact that the poor themselves may 
not accept the activist on a social basis — due to differences in race, class, 
background, and a variety of other factors. 

This narrowing could be due to ordinary human patterns of interaction 
in the United States, which are now more job-related than neighborhood- or 
family-based. This certainly is the case with regard to socializing by 
Jesuits engaged in other works-especially the schools . The pattern for 
the activist, however, may also result from a kind of siege mentality 
growing out of alienation from others (discussed below in Part II) or from 
a pervasive fatigue that inhibits development of diverse interests and new 
friends. The narrowing circle of friends intensifies the anguish and 
loneliness produced by the job and other factors, and it inhibits a broad- 
ening of horizons that would be truly fruitful even in terms of the work 
itself. 12 

The Society of Jesus has a long tradition of men who have been com- 
mitted to service of the poor and to societal change. These men of earlier 
generations were "rugged individualists" to some, and "mavericks" and 
"loners" to others. Some were this way by choice or personality or work 
schedule; others through community reaction against their work. Many are 
proclaimed as great men and were hailed — late in life — as "great Jesuits." 
They often have appeared unique and inimitable. Thus there are few viable 
"models" for younger Jesuits to pattern their activities after. There are 
even fewer team or community- team models. This is a critical factor when 
increasing numbers of Jesuits, especially younger men, have entered social 
ministry or expressed an intention to do so. Without models, individual 
or team ministry and community or personal lifestyle become unknowns, new 
challenges, and complicated ventures. 


The absence of models also complicates the question of "training," 
since one of the primary modes of training in the Society has been regency, 
placing the young Jesuit in a school to learn while working — by doing. In 

the process he also learned from living with men who had been through the 

. . 13 
same experiences and chosen school teaching as their ministry. Until 

there are sufficient Jesuits active in social ministry to provide models 

for younger Jesuits and situations for community and training, those Jesuits 

entering this ministry do so without a powerful aid that is available in 

other apostolates. 

The crunch that seems to occasion burn-out comes when the aggravating 

realities associated with the work itself — community, environment, the pain 

of the poor, overextension, style, fatigue, loneliness — run headlong into 

the consciousness of the enormity and complexity of the task of creating 

a better society or of providing any lasting assistance to even a few of 

the poor. The activist may be only vaguely aware of the factors clashing 

within him, but their impact can crumple the validity of everything he is 

doing and of social ministry itself. 


"Alienation" is an extensively overused word these days, but it is 
quite appropriate in the context of the discussion which follows. The 
prime alienations of the Jesuit activist seem to be from brother Jesuits, 
the Church, and himself. Secondary alienations occur with regard to family, 
personal friends, and society in general. 

A. Questionable Authenticity, Different Lifestyle, Lack of 
Support, "We-They" Perceptions 

There is an image of what it means to be a Jesuit which is propounded 
by tradition, training, popular opinion, and especially by past and present 
institutional apostolic commitments. This is not unique to the Society of 
Jesus. On the contrary, what occurs in the Society is only one example 
of a larger process of "socializing," of passing on a structured reality 

from one person or group to succeeding persons or groups. Sociologists 
Berger and Luckmann describe as internalization the transmitting of in- 
stitutionalized patterns and processes which have been superimposed upon 
reality. It is the third stage in the genesis and maintenance of social 

structures, following upon the processes of extemalization and objectiva- 

*• 15 

Jesuits have internalized certain images of what it means to be a 
Jesuit: how one lives, relates to people, and works in society. The ef- 
fect of this internalization is that those who break from these patterns 
may have to pay a very high price for their independence. Peer-acceptance 
as "true Jesuits" is not readily forthcoming for those who live differently, 
perform different ministries , or even dress differently. This sense of 
alienation was articulated at a meeting of Jesuits engaged in non-traditional 
ministry, namely teachers in non-Jesuit educational institutions. 

More than one voiced the sentiment of isolation and of missing 
Jesuit community life. If there were hurts expressed, and there 
were a few, they were related not so much to apostolic ups and 
downs . . . but rather to . , . the questioning eyebrows and 
slighting comments implying that those in "other educational 
efforts" are a breed apart and somehow not really Jesuits . . . 
(emphasis supplied) . 

What did come out of the meeting was a group of men who 
plan to come together again next year because, as one expressed 
it, "It's important; we need to find affirmation from one an- 
other of our authentic Jesuit identity as we are living it out 
apart from stylized apostolates in institutions" (emphasis sup- 
plied). 16 

This problem is more acute for the Jesuit social activist who does not 

even share the communality of engaging in a traditional Jesuit endeavor, 

such as education. 

Ironically, the activist affirms within himself the alienation which 
he experiences from his fellow Jesuits. Since he has internalized the 
socialized "image" of Jesuitness, there are strong visceral doubts about 
the authenticity and legitimacy of his own work — and of himself. This 
takes place despite the fact that he can marshal extensive authority sup- 
porting and encouraging his work from popes, Councils, General Congrega- 
tions, fathers general, province assemblies, and his own superiors. 

The alienation from fellow Jesuits may have another source hinted at 


earlier in this paper; lifestyle. The difference is between an institu- 
tion-related community living a more middle-class, servant-ed existence on 
a campus and a simpler, self-serviced style of community located in a poor 
neighborhood — both styles in a sense "structured" by the work itself. More 
critical, however, is the often distinct "feel" to the different communities, 
including elements of religious experience, mutuality of expectations and 
"permissions," and service. These elements are what ultimately constitute 
"at-home-ness . " Whereas in former times Jesuits moved about with only 
limited readjustments in personal style, the move from school community 
to inner-city community or vice versa cannot be done in 1978 without sig- 
nificant personal changes. 

The feeling of alienation can be reinforced by a sense of no actual 
support from brother Jesuits. This has several causes: very few contacts 
with one another; little mutual interest in or understanding of respective 
ministries; and physical isolation from one another's places of work and 
residence. It may be that Jesuits in other ministries are themselves 
threatened by the activist or even hostile to his work. They may simply 
be so caught up in the demands of their own apostolate that they cannot 
offer support, even if they know how. Whatever the case, it is easy for 
the activist or activist community to begin to feel that their fellow 
Jesuits do not support them. 

As the activist becomes more and more conscious of, and sensitive to, 

the structural and systemic features of the problems facing the poor, 

he can move to a "we-they" conflict perception of all of American society — 

including the Church and the Society of Jesus. Fr. William J. Byron, S.J., 

posed an important consideration in a paper prepared for the Southern 

Province Assembly of June, 1975: 

Midway in this paper I asked, "Is our corporate apostolic 
service compensatory; are we throwing our weight onto the side 
of the oppressed?" Symbolicially , justice is represented by 
trays in balance on a scale. The unbalance of social injustice, 
where one group's advantage (the down tray) is taken at the ex- 
pense of another group (the up tray), calls for compensatory 
action. As a social group, we Jesuits should shift our weight 
over to the weak side. We see gaps between rich and poor, power- 
ful and powerless, advantaged and disadvantaged. In exercising 
our ministry of justice, by whatever apostolic instruments, we 


should, it seems to me, translate the ideal of the Third Mode of 
Humility into practice by choosing to be — with Christ and as 
Christ — on the short side of all those gaps. Where do we throw 
our weight? Where do we throw our wealth, our income, our apos- 
tolic energy? 1 ' 

The activist answers Father Byron's question by saying that the Society 

largely casts its weight with the "haves," with those who at best "don't 

care" and at worst are the oppressors. He sees the institutional and 

personnel weight of the Society lined up with the "haves" in such popular 

dichotomies as these: 

white vs. black 

white vs. brown 

male vs. female 

U.S. vs. Third World 

powerful vs. powerless 

rich vs . poor 

suburban vs . urban 

well-educated vs. poorly educated. 

The activist concludes that no matter how much Jesuits "tinker" with their 

present institutional commitments to facilitate the entry of some minority 

composed of the poor or disadvantaged, the Society's weight is still cast 

overwhelmingly on the side of the well-off. 

B. Secular Environment, Changing Religious Identity and Practices 

More than most Jesuits, the activist often moves in an alien and 
"ecumenical" world. The people he works for and those he works with are 
often Protestants, Jews, and agnostic or formal unbelievers. The close- 
ness to these groups contrasts with the experience of alienation from 
familiar Jesuit and Catholic circles discussed above. Even the "enemies"— 
landlords, loan companies, corporations, banks, and city hall — often are 
strongly Catholic and have significant ties to the Society of Jesus. 

Then there occurs an easy religious identification with those whose 
lives mirror at least the social values of the gospel — the poor and those 
imbued with a self-giving concern for humankind. This furthers the aliena- 
tion from those whose religion has been privatized and who seem thus to 


reject in fact the religion they affirm in theory. This affects the 

activist's own faith commitment, at least in some of its formal or "reli- 

18 . ... 

gious aspects. As Gustavo Gutierrez describes this experience: 

For many the participation in the process of liberation causes 
a wearying, anguished, long, and unbearable dichotomy between 
their life of faith and their revolutionary commitment. . . . 

Moreover, the close collaboration with people of different 
spiritual outlooks which this option provides leads one to 
ponder the contribution proper to the faith. 7 

This experience shatters presuppositions about who are the saved and the 
unsaved, who are really Christians, what is ministry. Significant con- 
crete reactions suggested in the following paragraphs then may follow. 
As the activist applies a measuring-stick of the social gospel to 
those around him, the size of his Church dwindles rapidly. This is ac- 
companied by the feeling of uneasiness and even anger with the prayer and 
worship of the "all-inclusive" brethren of Church and the Society. As one 
author put it, "Submerged in the raw brutality of urban poverty, the min- 
ister quickly develops a special bitterness toward that decorative spir- 

ituality which hides indecision and evasion." Small circles of fellow 

worshipers and sharers of prayer develop among those who seem to be com- 
mitted to the poor by their actual living. These may be lay and/or re- 
ligious and/or priests. They may also be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, 

and non-formal believers. This development parallels the other kinds of 

.... ... 21 

narrowing of the world of the activist indicated earlier in this paper. 

An alternative reaction may be a skepticism towards, or even a total 
rejection of, prayer and the "spiritual life." Not only do these realities 
become associated with evasion and otherworldliness , but they are made all 
the more difficult by the imperative of the needs of the poor and the ex- 
perience of failure discussed above. 

But the continued wrestling with unyielding problems rips 
a man apart. It is true that such virile disregard of self 
counteracts the abstract dedication of the church's official 
proclamation of "preferential love of the poor." For the in- 
dividual minister, though, it brings its own brand of spiritual 
torture. Feelings of deadness — physical, psychological and 
spiritual — are inevitably born from failure and fatigue. When 
a brother's blood has spurted out and splashed you, however, -„ 
one feels guilty in retreating from the combat — even for prayer. 


What can happen then is a move to a one-dimensional— horizontal — Christianity 

whose demand is a total and complete dedication to "the effective- realiza- 

tion of this love in the city's barren world of shabbiness. ..." 

Either and both of the above two reactions have internal repercussions. 
They clash with the activist's prior and fundamental internalized values 
of "universal Church" and "formal prayer," with images of Jesuitness, re- 
ligious life, and priestly service. This clash is the source of a deep- 
rooted discomfort and alienation within the activist himself; his present 
experience does not "jell" with his past. If he is unable to come to a 
new synthesis that speaks to the internal pain, he again will incline to 
abandon his present social ministry in an attempt to reclaim his past, or 
he will abandon his past in the Society and probably in the Church as well 
in an attempt to claim his present and future. 


In moving to the question of theory and theology, this paper ventures 
even further from the descriptive to the analytic, and therefore to the 
more tentative and hypothetical. Nevertheless, the nature of the activist's 
underlying theoretical or theological construct has much to do with choice 
of ministry, evaluation of effectiveness, and eventual survival. In addi- 
tion, a discussion of these matters necessarily addresses spirituality, 

which here means the reflection upon and articulation of religous experi- 


In a very real sense, religious experience, spirituality, and theology 
are all correlates. Each affects the shape and substance of the others 
and in turn is shaped and given substance by them. Problems in one area 
invariably have an impact in the other two, usually creating parallel 
problems there. 

For the Jesuit activist, three basic problem areas arise where the 

need for an adequate theory and theology is most acute: (1) power and 

conflict; (2) utopianism and ideology; and (3) dualism. Unless the activist 

has some explicit or implicit framework for solving or living with these 

problems, he will experience serious unsettling when confronted by them, 
an unsettling which further aggravates his dilemma. 


A. The Use of Power and the Engagement in Conflict 

One reaction repeated often by religious in community organizing is 
that of being "frightened" of the use of power, finding it inconsistent 
with gospel values, having "gentleness breakdowns." There is a similar 
reaction to the advocacy of conflict which lies at the heart of not only 
community organizing, but also our adversary-process legal system, most 
urban politics, and much social theory, especially under Marxist and other 
influences. Some Jesuit activists find this advocacy inconsistent with 
their Christianity, their role as religious, their priesthood. 

The activist must ask himself whether this "spontaneous" reaction is 
true to the mark, an articulation of a felt sense of Christians that is 
genuinely connatural. He must examine the utilization of power in the 
context of conflict and ask whether it is incongruous with the proclama- 
tion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His conclusion may be that the use 
of power and the engagement in conflict are inappropriate, either in cer- 
tain concrete situations or at all times (a kind of pacifist stance that 
has strong roots in Christian history). If so, he must change his style 
of social ministry or opt out altogether. 

On the other hand, the activist may conclude that his "spontaneous" 
reaction is simplistic and idealistic. It indicates that he has an in- 
adequate social ethics operative at the point where a surface or literal 
reading of the gospel meets the demands of real life in the world. He may 
have unrealistic and naive expectations in both his faith-vision and his 
politics that fail to acknowledge the permanent presence of evil in the 

Whatever the conclusion, if the activist does not move beyond his 
initial and instinctive reaction against the use of power and conflict and 
ask serious questions about the gospel, ethics, and politics, then he is 
caught in a bind that will not allow his commitment in this ministry to 
survive. He will burn out. 

If he does stay with a work that involves power or conflict, then 
he may have to follow a different kind of analysis of "the good." He may 
come to believe that a literal gospel morality is not intended to cope 
with the complicated business of fashioning a society embodying true 


Christian values. He may see that "the good" is a product of human en- 
deavor and experimentation, where the possibilities as well as the limits 
of the past and the present give shape to responsible moral choices in an 
actually lived human situation. Then, in concrete political history, he 
may conclude that pursuit of "the good" not only allows but requires the 
use of power and conflict, (If he does reach this last point, he will 

then be faced with further questions of when and where and how much power 

or conflict are appropriate. ) 

B, The Clash of Utopianism and Pragmatics 

A second jarring clash experienced by some activists occurs between 
the theoretical utopianism or ideology of a "new society" and the factual 
complexity, provisionality , and failure involved in the processes of so- 
cial change. If his "pure" utopianism cannot adequately incorporate the 
phenomenon of failure, he experiences danger. If his ideological stance 
cannot encompass the advocacy of solutions both complex and provisional, 
solutions that "work," he is in jeopardy. How can he make a judgment to 
begin one course of action or to continue another if his only real choices 
are ideologically unacceptable? The inability to reconcile this tension 
or to live with it in a meaningful fashion is an important factor in the 
experience of many activists who embrace their work with grand hopes and 
enthusiasm and abandon it disillusioned and bitter. 

Eventually, if he is to survive, the activist has to ask himself how 
the tentative solution and the failed endeavor fit into his social theory 
and theology. He has to deal with the frustration and paralysis created 
by his own absolutes. He has to apply to his own fixed ideological struc- 
tures the same liberating standards of criticism he might use on some 
other oppressive social structure. 

This very endeavor is a walking beneath the standard of the cross. 
For the activist, it will be a painful journey; but the liberation of 
grace always encompasses an element of pain when it moves us away from 
ready answers to which we are securely anchored and forces us into the 
unknown where we must steer without certainty. 


C. A Fatal Dualism 

The final critical challenge in the area of theology is dualism. Here 
the activist formally addresses the subtle problem which lies at the heart 
of the difficulties discussed above regarding prayer (vertical vs. hori- 
zontal Christianity), authenticity (Jesuit and Church vs. involvement in 
secular world), and religious identity ("religious practices" vs. immersion 
in the work and life of the poor). This dualism, posed alternately as 
"Church-World" or "Sacred-Profane," is central to the feeling of some 
Jesuit activists that social- action work is somehow "natural" while they 
are called to mediate the "supernatural" (envisioned in sacramental min- 
istry and overt word-proclamation). To them comes the frequent question, 
"How is what you do priestly!" 

In one sense, this is the classic Jesuit question and it situates the 
activist firmly in the midst of his brothers in the Society of Jesus. This 
question flows out of and is prompted by a spirituality which, at its best, 
blends divine and human action in a single vision and movement. But the 
obvious and simple fact that the question has been asked before does not 
make the answer any easier. The very persistence in the asking testifies 
to the difficulty of responding. Nevertheless, the unwillingness or in- 
ability or failure so to respond has been costly for activists in the past 
and will persist for the unwary. 

Like his brothers, the Jesuit activist must be prepared to deal with 
this question, whether posed by others or in his own reflection. In re- 
sponding, he may choose to formulate answers, or to argue that the questions 

. . - . 26 

themselves are bogus and arise out of false, dualistic presuppositions. 

Either endeavor requires that he prayerfully reflect upon and seek to un- 
derstand the universality of grace, the Incarnational reality, and the 
human and priestly role in the plan of salvation. 

All three of these theological/theoretical questions are connected 
and demand a complex response which is neither easily formulated nor 
readily at hand. Moreover, that response must be both practical and per- 
sonally synthetic (at the level of lived experience and in spirituality). 
Various "successful" activists seem to have built their spirituality upon 
some implicit resolution of these problems, and it would be well for them 


to articulate their experience and to spell out their vision for the benefit 
of others. Other activists, on the contrary, are still caught up in these 
questions. This condition, coupled with alienating experiences and the 
strains associated with the work of social ministry, constitutes the crit- 
ical burn-out dilemma. If the activist cannot fashion an adequate support 
system, or cope with those forces creating alienation, or address the ques- 
tions of theology and spirituality, he cannot survive at what he does — not 
effectively, not as a whole person, and certainly not for long. 


If this discussion has seemed negative, this is a result of the specific 
intention to sketch out the elements of what is a contemporary dilemma or 
even a crisis. It is as well an attempt to initiate a process of dialogue 
and discussion that will facilitate healthy response and resolution — if 
its challenge is picked up by the more experienced and the more expert: 
the psychologists, spiritual directors, theologians, and, most importantly, 
activists themselves. Nevertheless, some lines of a responsive development 
already are present which provide genuine hope. A brief sampling of these 
developments is given in the following paragraphs. 

1. The first — and it has been the source for this paper — is that 
people are discussing this dilemma. Many are alert to the problems, rais- 
ing questions and positing solutions. In a sense, this is the most helpful 
of the signs since it suggests that activists will not be mere passive and 
unknowing victims of the forces in their lives. 

2. Serious theologians are addressing these problems. The first 

sentences of the Introduction to Gutierrez's A Theology of Liberation 

read as follows: 

This book is an attempt at reflection, based on the Gospel 
and the experiences of men and women committed to the process 
of liberation in the oppressed and exploited land of Latin America. 
It is a theological reflection born of shared efforts to abolish 
the current unjust situation and to build a different society, 
freer and more human. 

The works of Gutierrez and others seriously address many of the problems 
indicated above, especially those in the theoretical and theological area. 


These offer genuine hope, especially when coupled with the renewed interest 

among activists in developing a theology and spirituality which will buttress 

and forward their own work. This coupling itself may be a good example 

of just what the blending and interplay of theory and praxis are all about. 

3. Activists recently have evinced a much more intense interest in 
community life. This product of experience harbors real promise for the 
future, and it may foster both current apostolic effectiveness and the per- 
sonal stability which will support more innovative and searching endeavors 
in terms of work and lifestyle and spirituality. At the very least, this 

development presently provides an important locus for expressing and sharing 

.29 . 

feelings of anger and frustration and for countering experiences of aliena- 
tion and non-support. 

4. Developments in community-building have been accompanied by an in- 
tense interest on the part of some in putting together apostolic team ef- 
forts in response to people's needs and social problems. This lays the 
groundwork for more longevity of various projects as the "maverick" status 

of some past efforts is carried to a new stage, one more proper to modeling 

* v . • .30 

for, and the training of, new generations. 

5. Recent attention among "formation personnel" to providing younger 
Jesuits with diverse cultural experiences — especially among the poor — is 

very important. When this is supplemented with reflection upon social 

. . 31 ... 

realities and the acquisition of genuine helping-skills, it means that 

these men may be prepared for encountering the harsh realities of American 
poverty and injustice in the face of which many older Jesuits can only 
respond in frustration, "What can I do?" 

This development suggests a brief remark on the element of competence 
in social ministry. In the assignment of men to, or the choice of, social 
ministry, serious consideration must be given to professional and personal 
competence. The former means the acquisition of skills and knowledge help- 
ful to the work in question. The latter refers to personal growth and 
character such as "fits" a man to this kind of work and life. Attention 
to competence, of course, will not eliminate the failure and frustration 
and other stresses that are present in abundance in social ministry. Never- 
theless, those who engage in this work should be as prepared for this 


experience as training and personality may allow. 

6. The growing and liberating realization of the limits (and the ap- 
propriateness) of the conflict model in social ministry is also 'a positive 
indicator. Activists have found that they cannot remain true to their own 
experience of life if they absolutize the evil of the oppressors and the 
goodness of the oppressed. Simultaneously, however, they are accepting 
the existence of evil and structures of evil that must be recognized, ex- 
pected, and confronted. 

7. More difficult to capture here is a growing realization of the 
persistence of failure in all social-change ministry, and of the need to 
incorporate it into spirituality without having it become an excuse for 
social irresponsibility and inaction. Efforts in this direction encompass 
reflective evaluation of redemptive suffering in Christian theology, a dy- 
namic theology of development and history, as well as an understanding of 
the Incarnation that truly melds the creative activity of humankind with 
the grace of God active in history. All this is a kind of Ignatian unified 

The consideration of failure, however, is only one example of the in- 
creasing awareness of the need for every Jesuit activist to develop both 
a social anthropology and a theology adequate for this work. This is not 
meant as a "head-exercise" alone, but as an understanding that promotes 
wholeness in spirituality and experience as well. 

8. Another development that offers hope on the contemporary scene 
is the growing awareness of all Jesuits in the wake of the 32nd General 
Congregation of their serious obligation to respond actively to the prob- 
lems of the poor and to oppressive social structures. For example, this 
awareness is embodied in the new move to a poorer, self-servicing life- 
style in formation and other houses. This modest development alone may 
well ease the alienation described above in terms of different styles of 
"at-home-ness ." On the other hand, a major move like the redirection of 
all our ministries to address the problems of injustice certainly would 

facilitate a renewed sense of communality and brotherhood for all Jesuits 

in terms of mission; but this development is as yet sporadic and halting, 

9. Lastly, there is among activists a refreshing interest in prayer 


and reflection. Rather than a simple return to "old forms," there appears 
to be an attempt to develop genuine expressions of spirituality which are 
supportive of the activists' work because they are attuned to the breadth 
or universality of the Christian mystery, as well as to the ambiguity of 
total involvement in the "now" and of eschatological hope in the "not yet," 
For some, this has required merely the constant "situating" of community 
liturgy and personal prayer in the current social context by frequent al- 
lusions to social implications, the needs of poor people, the action of 
sin and grace in social structures, and the like (thus suggesting that 
it was not "formal prayer" but uncaring formal prayer that failed in the 
past). For others, it means experimenting with new kinds of retreats 
specifically attending to the social reality and our role in it, or fast- 
ing and abstention attuned to world hunger and food costs, or Scripture 
services occasioned by and directed towards local, national, and world 
political events. Despite mistakes in the process of experimentation, a 
growing seriousness about interiority is necessary to fashioning a viable 
and vibrant spirituality for a future that will be more unlike its past 
than in any prior age. 


That there is a problem for Jesuit social activists has been confirmed 
for me in numerous conversations and discussions over the past three years 
Hopefully, the above presentation of the contours of the problem has been 
faithful to those who shared their lives. If this paper has been able to 
"raise high" some important questions, to indicate accurately some char- 
acteristics of the problems in service of the gospel, and to delineate 
some lines of a hopeful response, then it has been worthwhile. That others 
will move the discussion forward from here is much hoped for. 



Richard L. Smith, S.J. 
Jesuit School of Theology 
5430 South University Avenue 
Chicago, Illinois 60615 

Introduction by Alfred C. Kammer, S.J f 

The first "viewpoint" presented here is a reaction 
to our study by an American Jesuit community organizer, 
Mr. Richard L. Smith, S.J., of the Oregon Province. He 
combines his own personal history with provocative in- 
sights into the Society's ability to respond to social 
injustice, and also gives some perceptive reflections on 
the role of anger in the life of an organizer. 

Father Alfred Rammer's paper on the phenomenon of burn-out among Jes- 
uit social activists reflects a remarkable sensitivity to a serious prob- 
lem. I am grateful to Father Kammer for what he has written; it testifies 
to his own best hopes that we Jesuits, with our eyes open to some of the 
risks involved in following the 32nd General Congregation, will be able 
to engage even more effectively in the difficult mission of serving faith 
and promoting justice. 

I would like to respond to Father Kammer 's paper first of all by de- 
scribing some of my own personal history in the Society and some of the 
experiences out of which I am writing. Secondly, I would like to refocus 
the problem of "burn-out" in a way somewhat different from Father Kammer. 
And thirdly, I would like to say a brief word about the anger that is seen 
by some as being characteristic of Jesuit activists. 


I. A Personal History 

As a way of beginning, then, I would like to describe some of my own 
personal history in the Society over the last several years, not because 
I think it is particularly noteworthy or outstanding, but rather because 
I am discovering more and more that it is rather typical of many Jesuits 
now working in social ministry. As I write this, I am in my third year of 
theological studies and a few months shy of ordination. 

I can recall that when I entered the novitiate in the late sixties, 
the world — and particularly the poor and powerless — were beginning to di- 
rect some enormous challenges to the Church. I think I had some awareness 
of those challenges, although they seemed rather abstract to me at the time. 
I saw the possibility of responding to those challenges as a priest and as 
a Jesuit, but the withdrawal from "the world" which the novitiate program 
involved at that time required that I place those challenges on the back 
burner. Consequently, at the end of my novitiate, I perceived the call to 
priesthood and to the Society as something that emerged chiefly out of my 
own prayer experience and that gave me great consolation and peace — even 
though it was not at that time explicitly related to the concerns and 
struggles of people in "the world." 

When I went to Gonzaga University for my collegiate years, the Viet 
Nam War was in full swing. The campus was bursting at the seams with angry 
students vehemently attacking both the Church and the Society for remaining 
silent in the face of that horror. Those were difficult years for me. I 
felt then, as I do now, that the students at that time were basically right 
and I joined them in their efforts to stop the war. But in so doing, I 
felt caught between the involvement I had taken in conscience in those 
anti-war efforts and the earlier prayer experience which had confirmed 
my desire to be a Jesuit and a priest. These two aspects of my life 
seemed, as a matter of fact, to be mutually exclusive and contradictory; 
and I wondered if the day would come when I would have to choose one over 
the other. I became one of the "angry young men" of the time, feeling 
alienated from my Jesuit brothers as well as from those struggling to 
bring an end to the war and a reordering of national priorities. 


Nevertheless, the anxiety of that period was not enough to outweigh 
the deep experience of being called by the Lord that I had received in the 


novitiate. Underlying the storms of that period, I still felt an abiding 
sense of peace that made me want to hang on to my Jesuit vocation — despite 
all the reasons to the contrary. As the time for regency approached, I 
asked and received permission to do an alternative form of regency as a 
community organizer in Oakland, California, 

When I arrived in Oakland to begin my regency, my vision of priesthood 
and Jesuit vocation consisted largely of the ideals, values, moral principles, 
and convictions that I had formulated as a novice and as a student. One 
crucial ingredient was missing: the people. Working with the people in 
the neighborhoods in Oakland was, in many many ways, one of the most en- 
riching experiences of my life. Someday, perhaps when I'm retired, I'd 
like to write poetry about them, what they did for me and what they meant 
to me at that time in my life. They kidded me, they challenged me, they 
scared me, they appreciated me, they shared with me the muck and mud as 
well as the simple joys of their lives. Being with them and working with 
them made me feel very much alive in a way I had never felt before. How 
could I not have wanted to be with them in their struggle to make the fu- 
ture better for themselves and their children? 

The experience of working with the people in Oakland had a profound 
impact on my vocation. This time I heard the Lord's voice addressing me 
not so much from the realm of ideals but from the midst of the people. 
It was an invitation to join him there among them. That voice, coming as 
it did from their midst, enabled me to see why I wanted to be a priest and 
a Jesuit. Because of the people it all made sense. The tension that I 
had felt as a college student vanished because priesthood came to mean 
for me an even deeper immersion into their lives and struggles. 

So, out of this personal experience and history, I can now say that 
nothing makes me feel more integral as a Jesuit than living and working 
among the poor. The transition it has meant for me has caused me, in a 
sense, to lose my vocation — only to find it in a deeper and more meaning- 
ful way. 

I mentioned earlier that my reason for recounting some of my own 


personal history was precisely because it is not totally unique to me; in 
fact, I have discovered that it is similar to that of many Jesuits now 
working in social ministries. The Jesuits of a community living and work- 
ing in a poor section of downtown Toronto recently described their own 
experience in a similar way: 

Besides the innovations of simplicity and apostolic inser- 
tion. . . , the most important change is that our religious 
and communal lives have generally ceased to be problematic 
for us. Before, until 1973, all of us were subject to crises 
of identity and crises of vocation. To some extent we look 
back upon these difficulties as false problems engendered by 
our institutionalized lives. It is simpler now, less criti- 
cal, partly because we have less time to worry about such 
things, but more importantly because our vocation, our vows, 
our ordinations all seem to make a sort of practical, day- 
by-day, sense. A great deal of mystery remains, and a great 
deal of joy. . . . We are very happy. 

II. The Problem Refocused 

According to Father Kammer, work among the poor is an apostolate that 
manifests a unique collection of problems which contribute to the so-called 
burn-out phenomenon: the strains associated with the work itself, the ex- 
perience of alienation, and some theoretical difficulties. This phenomenon, 
the paper states, belongs not only to Jesuits engaged in work with the poor, 
but also to many health and social-service professionals as well. I can 
find no place in the paper where Father Kammer indicates that the problem 
might exist in the more established apostolates of the Society. The con- 
clusion, it would seem, is that the problem is intrinsic to work among the 
poor, such that anyone who chooses to live and work among the poor runs 
the risk of becoming burned-out — and this, for the Jesuit, might even en- 
tail the loss of his own vocation. Such a conclusion might explain the 
occasional reluctance of some concerned provincials, formation directors, 
and novice masters to encourage their men to engage in such a life and 

Let me say at this point that any worthwhile apostolic work — even 
one that is long-established and institutionalized — is prone to problems 


of strain, failure, and fatigue, and therefore is equally vulnerable to 
the burn-out phenomenon. Nevertheless, such problems have never been 


viewed by the Society as sufficient reasons for giving up or withdrawing 
altogether from a given apostolate — and hopefully this will not happen in 
the area of direct social ministry with the poor. Such a withdrawal could 
only mean that we are either unable or unwilling to embrace that call that 
we have heard repeatedly in recent years both from the Church and from the 
poor themselves, a call which our last General Congregation articulated 
so well: the call to serve faith and to promote justice. Thus, it is not 
work among the poor that is brought into question by the burn-out phenomenon , 
Rather, what the phenomenon does bring into question is the present ability 
of us Jesuits to meet the many demands that this particular work presents. 

To put all of this in another way, the most important question we 
must ask is not: Why have so many Jesuit activists burned out? Rather, 
it is: Why are we Jesuits, with all of our training, spirituality, and 
material resources, successful by and large only in our involvements with 
the professional classes of American society? What is there about us that 
makes it so difficult, so problematic, for us to throw in our lot with the 
poor and the oppressed? 

I suspect that what lies at the heart of our problem is very often 
our commitment to a false notion of "professionalism"; it is a type of 
"professionalism" that is really very unprofessional in that it is alien- 
ated from the people it is meant to serve. Today it often seems that the 
milieu of the "professionals" and that of "the folks" are miles apart; 
each milieu has its own logic, its own values, its own expectations. In 
fact, the two milieux are not always in harmony with each other. We could 
ask, for example, the welfare mother what she thinks of the "professional" 
social worker whose brash arrogance must be endured in order to remain 
eligible for welfare payments; or the low-income homeowner what he thinks 
of the "professional" real estate broker who just sold him a "lemon." 
Again, we could ask the ethnic blue-collar worker on Chicago's west side 
what he thinks of the "professional" university professor who keeps putting 
all those crazy ideas into his kid's head. The point is that rightly or 
wrongly the Jesuit's "professionalism" is likely to make him suspect in 


the eyes of the people in the neighborhoods and on the streets. 

In pointing out this problem, in no way do I want to suggest that Jesuits 
working in social ministry should be uneducated or incompetent. The ques- 
tion is not whether we should be competent or not; we clearly should be I 
Rather, the issue here is our ability and our willingness to divest our- 
selves of the trappings of a pseudo-professional milieu — the coats and 
ties, the technical and obfuscating terminology, the finely honed theories, 
the display of academic degrees, the carpeted and air-conditioned offices — 
in order to become more fully incarnate in the milieu of the poor. The 
problem is that we have so often been trained and acculturated for the 
former milieu and not the latter. We are not used to mingling with poor 
and powerless people. 

The tension produced by this realization has been felt increasingly 

by a variety of priests around the world since the outbreak of World War 

II. The following words, written in 1945 by the pastor of an inner-city 

parish in Paris, reflects fundamentally the same problem: 

Our influence upon ordinary people is not what it should be, 
partly because we are so different from them; we think dif- 
ferently, live differently, speak and act differently. In 
other words, we have a different culture. Our seminary 
training in the classics, philosophy, and theology has put 
us in a class apart. . . . What is the result? Usually it 
means that we feel compelled to surround ourselves with those 
who will understand our thought and our speech, and those who 
have tastes like our own. ... We tend to move among and 
work with people who resemble us — it is easy to do so. Our 
objection comes from the consequent forgetfulness of the great 
mass of men who are not like us. Our concern is about the 
consequent inability to meet ordinary people, to talk to them, ~ 
to make them feel at home in the "catholic" Church we represent. 

More recently, the Jesuits in Toronto that I mentioned earlier de- 
scribed the type of attitude they had to assume upon entering the milieu 
of their neighbors, a milieu in which even traditional religous values 
and expressions were foreign: 

Most Jesuit ministries assume the existence of a Catholic con- 
text, a shared religious culture in which people apparently 
know what "grace," "sin," "salvation," etc., mean. We have 
to assume nearly the direct opposite. We are working with 
people whom the church long ago abandoned or perhaps never 
approached. In seeking to make Christ and his Church present 


to these people, we cannot even presume that we know what sin 
and grace mean to them. But in different ways we do discover 
how the Lord is alive in them, and we are slowly learning hqw 
they experience his forgiveness, how they live his Passion, how 
the kingdom is at hand among them. 

Thus, an individual or a group of Jesuits leaves the "professional" 

and traditionally religious milieux in order to enter the milieu of "the 

folks," The transition is more than geographical; it can affect the entire 

fabric of their lives. But then a difficulty arises : Their superiors and 

brother Jesuits expect them to keep the same lifestyle, routine, spirituality, 

tastes, interests, and manners of speaking as they had before. What can 

then develop is a clash similar to the one that led to the suppression of 

the worker-priests in France. The French bishops, concerned by what they 

regarded as a loss of "ecclesiastical virtue" among the worker-priests 

eventually forbade them to continue their ministry. Responding to some 

of the initial charges of the French hierarchy, a group of worker-priests 


As for more definite risks, it is true that the worker's life, 
the hard work, the living conditions, the fatigue, the lack of 
time and so on, do more often than not hinder us from carrying 
out the duties of regular worship required of a priest in the 
ordinary ministry. ... If we are judged on such grounds, we 
are certainly worthy of condemnation. 

On the other hand, it is certain that the working-class life, 
even the working-class struggle, have their own discipline and 
ethic, and these, what with the frankness, loyalty, courage, 
and risks run in encountering repression that they involve, 
are as good as many others. The methods used for our suppres- 
sion may have to do with the ecclesiastical virtues; they have 
nothing to do with the working-class virtues. Which are the 
more Christian?^ 

To summarize what I have said, the phenomenon of burn-out among Jesuit 

social activists raises questions that all American Jesuits must face if 

we, as a corporate body, take seriously the mission of serving faith and 

promoting justice. The phenomenon must not lead us to withdraw from — or 

to refrain from sending men into — work among the poor. Rather, it should 

challenge us to equip ourselves and each other with the resources we need 

to meet the exigencies and demands that such a work so often entails. 

Moreover, we cannot regard the burn-out phenomenon as a problem of a few 


people engaged in a peculiarly problematic ministry, as Father Kammer sug- 
gests. It is a phenomenon that we must view within the larger context of 
the Society of Jesus in this country, for it stems in large measure from 
our position within the American professional milieu and our general aliena- 
tion from the everyday life of the poor. Unless all of us, and particularly 
superiors and those in charge of formation, are willing to grapple with 
the deeper question that this problem raises, then those who choose to live 
and work among the poor will continue to be regarded as an ever-dwindling 
number of apparently brave — or neurotic — mavericks who represent something 
of an aberration from the "normal" Jesuit vocation. 

III. The Anger of the Jesuit Activist 

Father Kammer has alluded to several characteristics that are commonly 
ascribed to those Jesuits who become involved in the struggles of the poor 
and powerless: They do so out of a "messiah complex," or out of a sense 
of infantile guilt; they see themselves laboring under a sword of Damocles 
which, if the system is not changed immediately, will fall upon us all; 
they are "working out inappropriate anger and authority hang-ups" which 
cause them to view even their superiors and brother Jesuits as "they." 

It is difficult to know the extent to which these criticisms are 
directed to all Jesuit activists, to a majority of them, or to only a few. 
Moreover, it is difficult to say in any given instance whether an individual 
Jesuit activist is acting out of an inflated messiah complex or out of a 
truly Christ-like concern for the poor who suffer injustice; whether he 
is working out of an infantile and narcissistic sense of guilt or out of 
the recognition that, in the words of the 32nd General Congregation, "We 
ourselves share in the blindness and injustice of our age." And it is not 
always easy to determine whether a man is driven by a destructive and in- 
human compulsiveness or by that sense of God's burning compassion for the 
poor which inflamed the great prophets of the Old Testament. 

It is difficult to know what to make of such criticisms, even if they 
appear valid at times, Similar criticisms have been raised against Jesuits 
in other works. We all know the trite psychological stereotypes: That 


the reason an individual chooses to become a psychiatrist is because he is 
working out some of his own deep personal anxieties, or that one who chooses 
to become a mathematician works out of an idealistic worldview in which two 
and two must always equal four — though it rarely does in real life. Re- 
gardless of the rare appropriateness of stereotypes such as these, one 
would rightly hope that Jesuits, rather than fleeing from such ministries 
out of fear of their inherent risks, would engage in them despite those 
risks . 

But let's look, even if all too briefly, at the anger that has come 
to characterize the Jesuit activist. I recall that when I arrived in 
Chicago a few years ago to receive some initial training in community or- 
ganizing, the instructor explained to us that a sense of anger and of rage 
was a svne qua non of a good organizer. If you were incapable of anger, 
you were likewise incapable of organizing. Saul Alinsky himself, the be- 
lated godfather of community organizing in this country, used to say that 
an organizer, while burning against injustice, must also know how to "bridle 
his anger so that it becomes cold and hard. Then he acts with calculation." 
The point I make in citing these two men is this: Anger is a necessary 
motivation for anyone passionately concerned about justice — Jesuit included. 
Yet it is also recognized that it must be bridled and channeled so that it 
doesn't devour either the individual himself or those for whom he must be 
a friend and a brother. The goal of a good organizer is not to make enemies 
but to repair a situation of injustice — and that effort will more often 
than not require that one become enraged at those responsible for the in- 

The problem of frustration and guilt which Father Kammer has also 
mentioned is, I think, related to the question of anger. At a Social 
Ministries meeting of the Maryland Province in January, 1977, those in 
attendance were asked if they experienced frustration and guilt as a re- 
sult of the failures they encountered. One venerable old-timer who is 
much loved and respected by all those present at that meeting responded 
by saying: "I never get frustrated; I just get mad!" That was an in- 
sightful comment. When anger gets turned inward, the social minister 
can end up feeling frustrated and guilty as a result of failure. But if 


that anger can be properly "bridled" and directed outward into the unjust 
situations in the neighborhood and in the larger world, it can become that 
sense of rage that is so crucial for any prophet wanting to change society. 

If what I have said so far about anger is valid, then it calls into 
question a certain therapeutic model that has become prevalent among some 
contemporary psychologists and supervisors in Clinical Pastoral Education, 
and which has come to be adopted as well by some — though certainly not all — 
spiritual directors in the Society of Jesus. The primary objective of this 
model is to enable the individual to "feel good about himself" and thus to 
be freed for fuller growth as a person. According to this model, part of 
the healing function of the counselor or minister is to enable individuals 
to "ventilate" their destructive emotions once the sources of those emotions 
have been correctly located, usually in traumatic experiences of the in- 
dividuals' past lives. In line with this understanding of the healing 
process, such counselors and ministers are inclined to view any manifesta- 
tion of prophetic rage against injustice as an instance of "displacement" — 
a way of working out unresolved anger that most likely has its real roots 
in childhood traumas. 

I would like to state briefly a couple of reasons why I regard such an 
approach to counseling and spiritual direction as inconsistent with a mis- 
sion to serve faith and to promote justice. First of all, this model car- 
ries an implicit understanding of what it means to be human that is not 
far from that of the "self-made man" or the "rugged individualist." By 
placing primary emphasis on one's own personal growth and on "feeling good 
about one's self," this model tends to regard the human being as an iso- 
lated unit rather than as one intrinsically related to others, both politi- 
cally and interpersonally . Given such a tendency, the healing process 
easily becomes an experiment in narcissism: an introspective process in 
which one looks for salvation not in one's love for the neighbor but in 
one's own private self, not in the subordination of one's needs and in- 
terests to those of others but in the fulfillment of one's own emotional 
requirements. Such a process is doomed to failure. At best, it leads to 
a sense of tranquility that is both illusory and ephemeral. Consequently, 
as the inadequacies of the "self-made man" become more apparent to us in 


our own day, I would hope that spiritual directors in the Society would be 
instrumental in creating a new concept of what it means to be truly human, 
a concept that regards the human being as intrinsically "for others" — in a 
political as well as an interpersonal sense of that term. 

Secondly, with regard to the question of anger, this therapeutic model 
often tends to regard prophetic rage against injustice as a neurosis. It 
fails to see anger as a positive gift that must be channeled and used ef- 
fectively for others and for the kingdom. By encouraging an individual 
simply to "ventilate" his or her anger, this model ends by stripping the 
person of a very precious resource, one which he or she must cherish and 
learn to use effectively in order to become more fully engaged in the 
struggle for justice. Consequently, I would hope that spiritual directors 
in the Society would seek to bring to life in those to whom they minister 
a true passion for justice, a passion which utilizes in a constructive and 
effective way all of the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual energies 
that those individuals possess. By so doing, Jesuit spiritual directors 
will play an invaluable role in enabling their brothers and sisters to en- 
gage more and more fully in the mission to serve faith and to promote justice , 

IV. Conclusion 

As Zossima, the saintly monk of the Brothers Karamazov , states it: 
"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams." 
Father Kammer, in his description of burn-out among Jesuit social activists, 
has pointed out some of the harsh and dreadful realities of the call to 
serve faith and to promote justice. I have tried to emphasize that those 
realities call us to an even greater maturity and courage in committing 
ourselves and our resources to the poor and the oppressed. Moreover, the 
significance of the burn-out experience of some Jesuit social activists 
is such that it cannot be viewed merely as the problem of a few mavericks. 
The phenomenon says something about us all, and calls into question many 
of our "professional" instincts, our lifestyles, our formation programs, 
our general ability as a corporate body to fulfill the mission that our 
last General Congregation articulated. The phenomenon of burn-out among 
Jesuit social activists must be seen as a challenge to all of us; it is a 
reminder that love in action is different from love in dreams. 



A Summary 

composed by 

Francisco Ornelas, S.J. 
Calle Real de las Flores 
Apartado 30.025 
Caracas 103 CCatiaD, Venezuela 

Introduction by Alfred C, Kammer, S.J. 

In September, 1974, a number of Mexican Jesuits 
held discussions about the work they had attempted to 
do in depressed areas in Mexico City. Then Father 
Humberto Barquera, S.J., wrote a document which he en- 
titled "Marginality" (Limitrofia): and this, in turn, 
was summarized by Father Francisco Ornelas, S.J., while 
the 32nd General Congregation was in progress. Sub- 
sequently the summary reached me through Father Louis 
J. Lambert, S.J., Delegate to the Congregation from 
the Province of New Orleans . 

It is an analysis, more theoretical than my 
main Study above, of the philosophical and ideological 
factors in burn-out. This analysis is unique and im- 
portant precisely because it arose from reflections- 
\rpon- experience , namely, from the reflections of the 
Mexican Jesuits who had actually been working among 
the poor, rather than from the lucubrations of soci- 
ologists in comfortable study rooms. These writings 
of Fathers Barquera and Ornelas strongly influenced 
me in the composition of my own main Study above. 


The experience in question occurs when the activist perceives that a 
course of action, which in principle is possible, necessary, and just, is 
in fact subject to ironclad limits which frustrate its purposes. That 
perception carries with it a severe and peculiar "spending" of oneself, 
a reaction of pessimism and exhaustion which seems disproportionate to its 
visible causes. The frustration of the experience is so acute as to destroy 
the fabric of the person and the possibilities of the work. More than just 
tired or overworked, the activist feels "asphyxiated." His sensation is 
that he can never do more than beat his head against a brick wall. 

Because this experience is common to many social activists, it has 
given rise to examination and reflection on itself and upon the very work 
of social change, an examination that has revealed a self-contradictory 
dynamic within the work itself. On the one hand every particular concrete 
effort for social change tends to be self-critical, giving impulse to ef- 
forts which would transcend the de facto limits of place and time and needs. 
Yet, on the other hand, the parti ular endeavor simultaneously reiterates 
and reinforces its own necessity for the activist. 

In generalizing about the experience, we necessarily must present the 
experiential data of internal and external factors that are common to many 
activists. Any single analysis would have to analyze the factors proper 
to individual persons in addition to, and possibly distinct from, those 
which are set out in what follows. 

Internal Factors 

1. The decisive internal factor would be a kind of "structural- 
Utopian consciousness or awareness" that underlies the activist's endeavors. 
On the practical level it is translated into a certain attitude which arises 
in the social reformer when he is faced with social activism which gives 
configuration — "shape" — to him in contrast to the person who does not have 
that underlying consciousness or awareness. 


Both persons attempt to accomplish a service and invest themselves in 
that endeavor. Both are interested in the concrete activity that is going 
on, and in doing it the right way. The person without this underlying con- 
sciousness moves within the immediately possible and obvious without asking 
anything for himself beyond the present and immediate task. 

The social reformer, however, thinks in terms of change and Utopias ; 
he sharply contrasts what is happening in the work itself with what could 
happen. He discovers that what does happen has causes which are "artificial" 
in the sense that they are products of human intent or design or structures. 
Therefore, what happens is indefensible and intolerable; it cannot and must 
not occur. The result of this consciousness is that it creates a new anguish, 
a difficulty in having confidence in what the reformer himself is doing — and 
this difficulty in turn necessitates an emotional discharge which is more 
than ordinary. 

2. Another important internal factor is the physical-social environ- 
ment of the activist, which is usually depressing and often contributes to 
personal "draining-out . " Some activists do manage to move fluidly within 
this environment. In various ways they discharge the natural tensions which 
the environment produces in all its inhabitants before those tensions be- 
come personally crushing. Variations in consciousness and awareness, how- 
ever, also seem to account for the differences in the impact of this 
environment on diverse reformers. 

3. Another explanation for the differences in environmental impact 
upon individuals, even when they appear to have the same level of conscious- 
ness, has to do with the compensations they receive in their work and world. 
Those who have achieved some renown as radical thinkers and teachers (with 
whom an activist tends partially to identify himself) find themselves with 
almost unlimited freedom of imagination and thought, a select and admiring 
audience, freedom of "action" in the realm of theoretical elaborations and 
daring pronouncements, and even high incomes (a trajectory shared by numer- 
ous sincere left-wing intellectuals). 

The "street activist" with the structural-utopian awareness, however, 
finds little, if any, compensation in his activity for change. The "suc- 
cess" or smooth functioning of some action or activity tends to be inversely 


proportional to its significance for change. "The people" themselves 
ordinarily have little appreciation for the activist's efforts, even less 
perception of how "the system" operates and, therefore, no understanding of 
actions calculated to question and challenge existing structures. The cul- 
ture of the poor acts almost as a language barrier to satisfactory personal 
interaction and support for the reformer. Moreover, the "success" of the 
renowned radical thinkers and the large, formal goverment and other social 
programs call in question the aptitude of the activist for doing what he 
does and the appropriateness of his own work for achieving genuine social 
change. This sense of functional ineffectiveness is unconsciously ag- 
gravated by the success values endorsed by this society, especially through 
its media; and the aggravation is compounded by the ongoing awareness of the 
structural nature of the problems faced by the activist which seem to re- 
quire concrete and effective responses. 


The antidote to the experience may lie in the hope that the convictions 
and charism regarding one's own mission achieve a deep personal level and 
that the activist acquire an adequate spiritual or theoretical construct. 
If this depth of conviction and charism is present, then living through 
thankless efforts may be seen as a reasonable price to pay for new pos- 
sibilities. Those interior limitations indicated in the preceding section 
which are more psychological and cultural are overcome by accepting the 
status of "foreigner-pilgrim" in the system and even with "the people" 
themselves — as one who is walking, and thereby forging a way for others, 
against the common current for the sake of structural change. 

External Factors 

Even though these interior limitations can be overcome by a certain 
asceticism and mystique, there are external limitations on activism and 
reform which do not correlate with the interior well-being of the activist 
and which therefore decisively affect the work of social change. These 


factors take their toll regardless of "who" the reformer is and whether 
he is personally "together." 

1. The political system itself tolerates innovative and even revolu- 
tionary action, but only on a symbolic level. When a course of action ap- 
pears as a genuine threat, even a distant one, to what is the established 
order or when it effectively unmasks the evils of the operative system, 

the system reacts violently. There remains only the possibility of clandes- 
tine action — small-scale and dubious — or half-hearted action. The system, 
however, appears so far-reaching and effective that it can be changed only 
by action which is equally far-reaching and counter-effective; and that 
seems impossible. 

2. It is difficult to have confidence while making conjectures about 
the success of broad, far-reaching "movements." New models of change and 
possible ways of living have to be searched for, basically by trial and 
error. In this search, however, we reproduce the very factors discussed 
above, those which are conducive to all of the interior limitations and 
barriers. Yet, successful small-scale experiments have to be taken one 
step further. They must be implemented on a broad base since it is neither 
possible nor reasonable to continue mere experimentation indefinitely. 
This broad implementation on a necessarily institutional level, however, 
would be stopped by the system or neutralized by being cut off from its 
revolutionary dynamic. 

3. The third external factor is the very smallness of the work of 
direct social action. When any work is done by an activist with the 
structural-utopian consciousness, he soon understands the underlying 
structure of the particular problem and learns the techniques of social 
change — including the fact that the daily work of social action itself 
reaps too small a harvest. The sensitive and studious activist then 
needs a base or environment that is broader than the initial educational 
group or small cooperative; yet that smaller task has to be done. 




Noel Barre, S,J. 
4 Rue de Plaisance 
7100 Le Mans (Sarthe) 

Introduction by Alfred C, Kammer, S.J. 

This final viewpoint is a response to the Mexican 
document, written during the 32nd General Congregation 
by a French worker-priest, Father Noel Barre, S.J. 

It addresses the burn-out experience from an en- 
tirely different approach of immersion among the work- 
ers and their "deep-rootedness . " It also strongly in- 
fluenced the main Study above. 

Everything that you analyze as internal or external causes of the ex- 
perience of those who work for social change with an informed conscience 
seems to me to match our working experience. It is the subject of our ex- 
changes and discussions among those involved with direct service of the 
poor, namely "social-action" or "worker" priests. 

The most profound cause of the difficulty is that "the System" which 
alienates is not only well defended and protected by those who are profiting 
from it and making it work, but also by any who submit to it. The system 
"structures" the latter group interiorly, whether they realize it or not. 
To become aware of this process and its implications takes time, experiences 
which make one eager for something else, and concrete involvements which 
are so personally upsetting as to produce uneasiness with other types of 
social settings and social relations. 

Ten years of life among the workers have caused me to appreciate the 
difficulties and to see, not so much the solutions, but possible avenues 
towards liberation and freedom. 


I belieye that the risk of the experience is greater for those who 
come from outside — motivated by idealism or ideology — and who mistake their 
desires for realities and their hopes for possibilities of immediate action. 
Men who are born in oppression and poverty and who have become aware of 
their plight are better armed to survive, despite the odds and against all 

That is why I give so much importance to "worker deep-rootedness ," 
to spontaneous, daily friendship without hope of success, to patience for 
resting or remaining at a level of the "least things" — never undertaking 
to do more than the people themselves can handle from their own resources. 
This is tough; but if we do not accept this condition, we remain on the 
outside as stranger, and we build on sand. 

When I went to work, my fellow Christian workers told me two apparently 
contradictory things: 

There is an important and urgent work which must be done; 
and we don't know very well how we should apply ourselves to the 
task. You will see this very quickly because you already have a 
theoretical understanding and a conscience very alive to the 
changes that must be made. 

But it is absolutely important that you say nothing, that 
you do nothing, that you play a subservient role for a long time, 
a very long time. . . . Otherwise you will not become one of 
these men and women. Accept the unjust salaries that it is neces- 
sary to accept to have work. Do not speak back to unjust or in- 
jurious words if your fellow workers cannot do so. 

This is the experience. It is a long, sad passageway for some. During this 
time one needs to share with the others who are more or less forced into the 
same space, especially with the people who were born there, who raised them- 
selves to another life there. The "change of life" in my group or with the 
worker-priests is fundamentally to discover theve a sense of this life. 

If the "option for justice" strongly demanded by the provinces of 
Latin America raises a question for me, it is exactly for this reason. 
If we wish to work with the people, and not as technocrats, we will en- 
counter this risk of the experience and it is absolutely imperative that 
we give ourselves the means not to perish. 

Maybe it is a question of undertaking less work to do, but with pa- 
tience, in brotherly communities, outward-going and well founded. I am dis- 
trustful of the enthusiasts and the programs of idealists of all sorts; or 
at least I fear for them and for the people who invest their lives in fol- 
lowing them. 




1 Both Mexican and French Jesuits involved in work amidst the poor have 
experienced something closely akin to the burn-out and reflected on 
their experience in the hopes of finding ways of healthy survival. See 
Appendix; Other Viewpoints, on pages 32 and 37 above. 

2 An analysis of the federal legal-services program states that current 
annual turnover among legal-services lawyers is 33%. See Legal Ser- 
vices Corporation Memorandum of March 2, 1977, 

3 The California study describes the effect of the burn-out as a loss 
of emotional feeling for the persons they are working with, treatment 
of clients or patients in detached or dehumanized fashion, "distancing" 
by the worker as a way of coping with stress, and eventual resignation 
from the job. Along the way, the service worker or professional often 
develops cynical and negative feelings about his or her clients or pa- 
tients, and begins to treat them as numbers or files. 

The study also indicated significant correlations between burn-out 
and alcoholism, mental illness, marital conflict, and suicide. See 
"Burned-Out," by Christina Maslach, in Human Behavior magazine, Septem- 
ber, 1976, pp. 18-22. See, also, "Consultant Burnout," by Michael D. 
Mitchell, in The 1977 Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators, pp. 143-46. 

4 For my own personal background see the Editor^ Foreword, p. iv above. 

5 See Dominic Maruca, S.J., "The Graces of the Third and Fourth Weeks," 

in Soundings: A Task Force on Social Consciousness and Ignatian Spir- 
ituality (Center of Concern, 1974), pp. 25-27, 

6 Of course, governmental studies in this country have indicated repeatedly 
that the poor are in fact getting poorer in relation to the prosperity of 
the rest of the country, the cost of living, their share of social "goods" 
and the like. 

7 The person with this awareness is described as thinking in terms of 
change and in Utopias. He or she sharply contrasts what is happening 
in his or her work with what could happen. He or she discovers that 
what happens in society has causes which are "artificial" in the sense 
that they are products of human intent or design or structures. There- 
fore what does happen is indefensible and intolerable; it cannot and 
must not occur. The result of this consciousness is that it creates 

a new anguish — a difficulty in having confidence in what the reformer 
personally is doing — which in turn necessitates beyond-the-ordinary 
emotional discharge. See Appendix, B, pages 32-36 above. 

8 "Annals of Law — The Liberty of Every Man," Richard Harris, The New 
Yorker , November 3, 1975, p. 55. 

9 One wonders whether the generalization itself might not be symptomatic 


of the gulf that exists between activists and Jesuits who are in the 
work of formation or spirituality — a gulf that is filled with judgments, 

10 It is interesting to note that the 32nd General Congregation called for 
increased exposure to and experience of the problems of the poor as a 
necessary foundation to any serious decision-making in regard to choice 

of ministries. See Our Mission Today, nos . 35, 49, 50, 73; and "Poverty," 
no. 5. 

11 What happens also to retreats, vacations, reading, non-job-related work- 
shops and seminars, and sometimes a sense of humor? There are observa- 
tions in the California study that indicate significant roles in burn-out 
played by deteriorating health, lack of vacations, drugs, lack of ex- 
ercise, lack of outlets for stress, and the like. 

12 This phenomenon has a parallel impact upon activists who are married. 
As one person observed to me, "Of all the activists of the sixties whom 
I knew, none of their marriages survived." 

13 Gail Sheehy, in her recent best seller Passages , gives particular stress 
to the role of "mentors" in the move of young men and women into their 
adult careers. Her analysis provides interesting input not only into 
reflection upon the regency experience, but also upon the roles played 

by particular older priests on the faculty in the initiation and develop- 
ment of scholastics (N.Y.: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1976). 

14 Another important factor in entry into social ministry is finances. The 
activist is often concerned not only for his living expenses but also 
for the cost of any programs he may wish to initiate. The further he 
moves from traditional work for which he might draw a salary from Church, 
private, or public agency, the harder it is to find supporting resources 
and the more time must be expended in fund-raising. 

15 "The process involved in the genesis and maintenance of social struc- 
tures is summarized by Berger and Luckmann as occurring in three inter- 
related stages: 

1. Ext email- zati-oni the process by which the person superimposes 
order on his or her environment, impresses his or her image on 
the world. This is done in order to provide meaning to the 
environment and to make it more useful for human purposes. 

2. Objectivation'. the process by which the product of the person's 
externalization is experienced as an autonomous reality which 
now in turn confronts the individual as an external and coercive 
fact. The facticity of this reality is frequently expressed in 
remarks such as 'That's the way things are,' or 'the way "they" 
want it,' and the like. 

3. Internalization: the process by which the structured reality, 
the institutionalized patterns and processes which result from 
objectivation, is passed from generation to generation in the 
course of what psychologists call 'socializing,' This makes it 
possible for newcomers to be taught how to live by the existing 
ways and thus to survive in a highly-structured milieu," 


Peter Henriot, S.J., "The Public Dimension of the Spiritual Life of the 
Christian: The Problem of Simultaneity" in Soundings', A Task Force on 
Social Consciousness and Ignatian Spirituality (Center of Concern, 1974) , 
p. 13. 

16 Anthony J. Adams, "Jesuits Share Views on Diversified Works," National 
Jesuit News, February, 1976, p. 12. 

17 William J. Byron, S.J., "The Social Dimension of Jesuit Group Aposto- 
lates," printed in Proceedings of the New Orleans Province Assembly — 
Session 5 (1975), P- 60. 

18 Here I am following the distinction discussed by Charles E. O'Neill, 
S.J., regarding "faith" and "religion" in "Acatamiento : Ignatian Rever- 
ence in History and in Contemporary Culture," Studies in the Spirituality 
of Jesuits, Vol. VIII, No. 1 (January, 1976), p. 8. 

19 Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation (N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1973), 
p. 136. 

20 T. J. McDonnell, "Transubstantiating the Wasteland," Worship, Vol. 47, 
No. 2, p. 93. 

21 This development may be aggravated further by the actual interference 
of Church hierarchy attempting to prevent the work of the activist or 
to set "requirements" more appropriate to other contexts, such as place 
of residence, religious attire, specific religious practices, and the 

22 McDonnell, op.cit.,p. 95. 

23 Ibid. 

24 This assertion applies as well to the so-called "atheistic humanist," 
who has some theoretical construct which serves in place of theology 
and "informs" his or her "spiritual life" — fundamental attitudes towards 
others, life, history, time, meaningfulness , and self-value, all of 
which serve as a basis for concrete action. 

25 In considering each and all of these questions, the activist's initial 
response of caution or even repugnance will act as a kind of "critical 
consciousness" that will test and strain all his attempts at formulating 
responses or answers. 

26 See Michael J. Buckley, S.J., "Jesuit Priesthood: Its Meaning and Com- 
mitments," Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits , Vol. VIII, No. 5, 
pp. 159-61, in which the author rejects the hyphenated-priest model 
and the distinctions which give rise to such a model. 

27 Gutierrez, op. cit., p. ix. 

28 One group of West Coast organizers has met weekly in an endeavor to 
frame a spirituality of community organizing. While theirs was re- 
portedly an often frustrating and frustrated enterprise, it may well 
be that it will contribute to the broader movement. 

29 The California study has apparently indicated that burn-out rates are 


lower for those who are able to express, analyze, and share their 
feelings about their work with their colleagues, 

30 In terms of funding, the move on the part of some American provincials 
to create "social-projects funds" is a good sign that future activists, 
while attentive to securing their own funding, need not make finances 
the sole determining factor in their response to needs, especially in 
the embryonic stages of a project. 

On February 1, 1977, thirty-eight members of the Maryland Province 
submitted a proposal to the U, S, provincials for the appointment of a 
full-time staff person who would assist U. S. Jesuits involved in com- 
munity organizing, development, and housing in such matters as fund- 
raising, personnel development, and communications. This, too, could 
be a very helpful development. 

31 It would be unfortunate if formation staffs do not invite activists to 
join in the process of review and reflection with the men in formation. 
This could be a prime opportunity for collaboration, increased under- 
standing, and sharing of insifhts and skills. 

32 See the discussion on problems in responding to the 32nd General Con- 
gregation's mission of faith and justice in "Jesuit Spiritualities and 
the Struggle for Social Justice," by Connolly and Land in Studies in 
the Spirituality of Jesuits, Vol. IX, no. 4 (Sept., 1977). 

II. On A. AN AMERICAN REPLY, by Richard L. Smith, S.J. 

1 Jesuit Community of West Avenue and The Red House, Toronto: unpublished 
letter to Eugene K. Culhane, S.J., and Luis Gonzalez, S.J., February 1, 
1977, p. 4. 

2 Abbe Michonneau, Revolution in a City Parish (London: Blackfriars Pub- 
lications, 1958), p. 131. 

3 Jesuit Community of West Avenue and The Red House, Toronto (see note 1 
above), pp. 7-8. 

4 Petrie, John, The Worker Priests: a Collective Documentation (London: 
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1956), p. 166. 






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SJ, Rome. The Ever Youthful and 
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Rome. A Testimonial to the Chris- 
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Communal Spiritual Discernment 

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Rome. St. Ignatius & Mary Ward: 
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Vol. I, no. 1 (Sept., 1969) J.R. Sheets, 
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